Monday, June 16th kicks off the start of the 18th annual “RoofSit” at Martin’s Supermarkets by U93 and Haley Kittrell, executive director of CASA of Marshall County said, “this is a good week for raising public awareness and funding to programs that help work with children who have been identified as abused or neglected as well as families and community education.” Although “RoofSit” provides funds in St. Joseph County there are many ways to give back to the communities’ right here in Marshall County to fight the problem of abuse and neglect.
Kittrell said, “It is a problem! In 2013, Marshall County had over 80 children identified by the court system as abused or neglected in which services were provided.” She then suggested several ways for
• One way to give back is to become a foster parent or to make a donation to the foster care system. You can contact the Department of Child Services local licensing specialist at (574) 232-7158.
• Sometimes, children are removed from their home and placed with a relative or in foster care. In some circumstances (such as active meth labs), children are not able to take any of their own belongings with them. You can make a donation to the local Department of Child Services to help these children. Needed items include: diapers, wipes, toiletry items (deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.), and pajamas of various sizes. To donate items, you can contact the local Department of Child Services (574) 935-4046 or call CASA of Marshall County (574) 952-1443.
• You can donate to local food drives for families in the community who struggle with putting food on the table, especially during the summer when children are not in school to receive meals. In Marshall County, you can donate to the Marshall County Neighborhood Center at (574) 936-3388.
• You can get involved in tutoring or mentoring children who need the extra attention.
• You could donate to a local recreational program, such as the Boys and Girls Club in Plymouth (574) 936-0660.
• You can become a part of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which in Marshall County is a nonprofit organization that appoints volunteers from the community to advocate for children identified by the family court system to be abused or neglected. CASA is a nationally recognized program that recruits and trains citizens from the community to become advocates. There is no specific educational background needed to become a volunteer-although you must be able to submit both oral and written reports to the courts every 5-6 months. You must interview with the CASA Director and pass a criminal background check as well as a CPS and social security verification check. The training is 5 weeks long (11 sessions) on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning September 9th and ending October 16th. The training is from 6:00-9:00 pm at the Life Enrichment Center at 1305 West Harrison Street in Plymouth. They have volunteers from all professions and ages. You must be at least 21 to become a volunteer. You can work full-time and still be a volunteer! For more information on becoming a volunteer or donating to the program, please contact Haley Kittrell at (574) 952-1443 or firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also visit the CASA website at www.marshallcountycasa.org .
• Most importantly, you can (and have a legal responsibility) to report any suspected child abuse or neglect at 1-800-800-5556. This is the 24-hour hotline number to reach the Indiana Department of Child Services to make a report. Please remember that you do not have to decide whether something is abuse or neglect to report it- that is up to the professional to decide. But you do have an obligation to report anything you think might be abuse or neglect. You can make anonymous reports, although it is sometimes helpful to have a name or number to reach you in case there are follow-up questions. There are also services available for families even if there is no abuse or neglect, so it is important to call any time you think a child or a family may be in trouble. Anyone who makes a report to the Department of Child Services in good faith is protected from criminal or civil liability, even if the report is not substantiated. Even if you are not sure if something meets the “minimum” definition of abuse or neglect, the report stays on file and can be accessed if another report is made in the future. The Department of Child Services, by law, is to protect the identify of a report source during the course of an investigation or assessment.